“There’s really no decision. I choose Drusilla.”
Even though Spike knew what Angel would do, the words still struck him. Angel was prepared to bargain with Lucian, knowing he must have something to hold against Angel. Spike just hadn’t thought it would really be her. In fact, he hadn’t really taken the time to think much about what Lucian would gain from all this.
Now it all made sense though and the expression on Lucian’s face was truly priceless. Lucian wanted a seer and Angel had one that he wasn’t claiming. Once he found Dru, he tried to use her against them. She’d outwitted him, though, and he didn’t even know it. Spike couldn’t help the broad smile that emerged as he watched the other vampire sputter and try to figure out where he’d gone wrong. One thing he knew about his sire, Angel was a master at playing the game. He read the table and gambled well.
Spike wasn’t quite sure when Angel figured out that Drusilla might be involved. If he were honest, the thought had crossed Spike’s mind but he dismissed it as unlikely. He hadn’t considered that Drusilla might be held against her will. There weren’t many vampires capable of it. Looking at her now, held by a minion, Spike realized that she was weak and in worse shape than she’d been in back when they first came to Sunnydale. The thought made him want to hurt Lucian more. There was no way they could leave Dru here. The idiot obviously had no idea how to take care of her.
Lucian realized that he had to hold to his bargain and nodded to the minion. Angel stepped forward quickly and Drusilla was placed in his arms. She curled into him, barely opening her eyes to acknowledge him. Her whimpered “Daddy” nearly broke Spike’s heart but he forced himself to remain calm, knowing that Angel wasn’t finished yet.
Once Angel was back beside them, Spike reached over and guided Drusilla’s face into Angel’s neck. It was very important for her to get his blood into her as soon as she could. She whimpered and bit, drawing his strong blood into her. After only a few moments, Spike pulled her away again and she hissed at him. Angel growled and she settled back down and huddled into Angel’s arms.
Angel let her nuzzle into him, his eyes still locked with Lucian’s. “Well, it seems that our bargain is complete. I think it’s time we took our leave. Oh wait, I’m not quite finished yet.” He turned and handed Drusilla off to Spike and when he turned back to Lucian his eyes had gone completely black.
“I think you should tell me what you know about my claimed one, Lucian. I think you should tell me now.” Angel’s voice was strange, deep and powerful, and it sent shivers through them all. Spike slipped back into the group of minions guarding Drusilla as he knew Angel would want him to. Angel didn’t need his help with this bit.
Lucian was puzzled by Angel’s strange appearance but still wasn’t willing to give up what he knew. He shrugged nonchalantly at Angel’s demand. “I met our bargain, Angel. Now it’s time for you to leave.”
Angel smiled. “I’m so glad you feel that way, Lucian. I was really hoping I could do this.” Angel heard Oz’s whispered, “Now, Willow,” and he felt the witch’s power soar through him. Lucian’s minions were engulfed in flames within moments and Angel laughed at the fear so apparent in Lucian.
“Changed your mind yet? ‘Cause I’m just getting started.” The dust from the burning minions began sifting through the room and more minions burst into flame. “I can burn everyone in this room. Hell, I can burn the entire room. I think maybe I will.”
Flames started climbing the walls and they could all feel the heat. The screaming minions were turning to dust all around them. Angel’s group huddled close together, unaffected by the flames or heat, although his minions were glancing at the fire nervously.
Lucian screamed in outrage as he watched his home and minions burning around him. Finally he screamed for Angel to stop. The flames slowly withdrew, leaving behind a smoldering ruin of dust and ash.
“Yes, Lucian?” Angel’s eyes remained black and he eyed the other vampire disdainfully.
“Dammit. What the hell have you done? You’ve ruined everything. I just wanted you to give up your claim on the seer. I wanted her for my own. I don’t know what the hell is going on with your human! I used information the seer gave to my advantage to weaken your hold.”
Angel glared at the other Master. “How Lucian? How exactly did you try to weaken me?” Angel let the flames start to creep up again and saw Lucian’s panic take over again.
“All I know is some demon is after the human and Drusilla has been spouting on and on about her William and how his poetry spoke of this. She put some spell on you a while back but said it didn’t work because the little tree was too powerful. And I had tainted blood sent in that she masked so it couldn’t be sensed. I was trying to reduce your numbers, not kill your claimed one! That’s it. That’s all I know. Leave now!!”
Angel turned and walked away and everyone who’d come with him followed. Spike wasn’t pleased. He waited until they were out of earshot before speaking. He had to fight to make his tone non-confrontational. “Angel, did he tell you what you needed? I don’t get it. Why are we leaving?”
Angel lifted Drusilla from Spike’s arms and let his hand squeeze Spike’s arm briefly. It wasn’t what Spike hoped for but let him know that Angel was confident in what he was doing.
Drusilla stirred once she was again held by Angel. “Daddy? Where’s my kitty? He’s going to be in such trouble and Miss Edith is so unhappy. She cries all night that the stars are working against Daddy’s little boy. They dance and spin and turn everything around in a pretty sparkly dance and poor kitty is so dizzy.”
Angel tightened his hold on Drusilla and picked up the pace. He wanted to get out of there, away from Lucian’s compound, and back to Xander. Something was definitely not right here, even more so than he’d originally thought.
Lucian wasn’t behind whatever was going on with Xander. Neither was Drusilla, though Angel suspected that she’d tried to help and had only made things worse. Maybe between Spike, Oz, Xander, and himself they would be able to make some sense out of Drusilla’s ramblings.
There had to be a clue there somewhere, something that would jump out at one of them, and give them some idea as to what was going on. They had nothing else at this point.
Back in the vans, the entire group was on its way to retrieve Xander when Drusilla stiffened again and started moaning and crying. “She’s come for him, Daddy. The kitty is screaming and the stars are dying. No one can save him now. The little dolly with her curly hair and bloody eyes, she can’t save the children now.”
Xander was pissed. He knew he shouldn’t be, but he hated feeling helpless more than just about anything. The fact that Angel, Spike, and Oz had all gone to confront Lucian without him was making him crazy. He was terrified that something would happen to one of them when he wasn’t there to help. The fact that he would be no help at all in his present condition infuriated him more than anything else.
The Kor’Chuk’s were keeping a close eye on him but they were leaving him alone, seeming to know just how angry the entire situation was making him. Xander needed to do something, needed to help, but he was trapped in this damn bed, too weak to do anything but simper and moan.
He slammed his fist into the bed and saw the Kor’Chuks rushing towards him. What? Did they think he was so weak that he couldn’t even hit the bed without getting hurt? Then he felt it, a brush of very powerful magic and the air around him shifted. The Kor’Chuks were frozen in their steps and Xander’s fury became fear.
Then a figure appeared and Xander suddenly understood exactly what had been happening and why. And he knew he was about to die a very painful death. His thoughts flew to Angel and Spike and he tried to tamp down on his terror, not wanting any of this to drift through to them from the bond.
He tried to stand, not wanting to be flat on his back and helpless for whatever was coming. But he knew it wouldn’t make any difference. There was nothing he would be able to do to stop her.
“What, no greeting for your old friend? Oh that’s right. We were never friends were we? You know why I’m here, though, don’t you? You knew I wouldn’t let her death go unavenged.”
Xander tried to speak but he was so scared the words were hard to form. Finally he pushed them out while frantically trying to think of a way out of this. “I’m surprised it took you this long.”
She laughed. “Well, I had to find the perfect way to get you. I waited until I had the perfect plan. What do you think? I’m pretty pleased with it all myself. Making them love you, making you love them, then taking it all away, just like you did to her. It really is one of my better schemes. I wasn’t expecting so much interference though. Now I have to change some things. I wanted you to suffer so much longer.”
“What are you going to do?”
She laughed and Xander tried not to grow even more terrified. “Oh, isn’t that sweet. You’re worried about them, aren’t you? Well, don’t worry. This really isn’t about them at all. You’ll be replaced soon. The wolf is primed and ready to take over. I’d love to take credit for that one but he just happened by all on his own. Does it bother you that he likes sucking cock for them? Spike really seemed to enjoy it.”
Xander stiffened and stepped back from her. “What? You didn’t know that they’d fooled around?” She laughed again. “Oh, this is even better. You want me to show it to you, show you how much your vampire loved filling that warm little wolf with his spunk?”
The images flew into his mind and Xander couldn’t stop them. Spike and Oz, together. The look on Spike’s face when Oz went down on him. Them curled together, peacefully sleeping. Xander thought he knew pain before but it was nothing compared to this.
In his distraction, he didn’t notice her moving closer. Then she was right in front of him, her hand around his throat. “They’re beautiful together, aren’t they? And just think, soon Angel will be right there with them. Do you know how hot the wolf is? And I don’t mean in the ‘he’s so hot’ kind of way. I mean in the literal, his body is so hot. He keeps them warm. You know how much they love that, don’t you? He’s even hotter than you and can keep them both warm without shivering like you do.”
Xander knew she meant the words to upset him further, but suddenly the thought of the three of them together didn’t seem so bad. All he’d wanted was for them to be happy and now they would be. Oz could give them the things he never could. And, as he’d been so gently reminded, Oz was a wolf. He could take care of himself, fight and defend himself. And as a bonus, he could offer Angel and Spike the warmth and comfort that they craved.
He couldn’t let her know though. Xander would do nothing to jeopardize their happiness, even if it would have to be without him. “Well, Halfrek, you’ve certainly done your worst here. You’re right, this is the best scheme you could have come up with. So what’s next?”
Halfrek laughed at him again. “Oh, well I was going to kill them and make you watch before I eviscerated you and left you to rot. Unfortunately, the stupid Powers won’t let me kill two of their Champions. So that just leaves me eviscerating you. But they didn’t say I had to do it here. So I think I’m going to leave the precious Champions with a little present back at their place. What do you think?”
Xander thought quickly. No way did he want his lovers to see that. “Works for me. At least that way I know they’ll never be able to forget me. My blood will be all over that place. It actually gives me a little comfort to know that part of me will always be around them.”
She stomped her foot and Xander tried not to laugh. “You’re supposed to beg.”
Now it was Xander’s turn to laugh. “You want me to beg you not to kill me? It’s not going to happen. Do you think I don’t feel guilty every day for not being with Anya when she died? It eats me up inside. I wonder if I’d been with her, if she’d have been able to walk out of there. Do you have any idea what it was like to know that her body was just buried there somewhere in a pile of rubble? I do feel guilty for her, for all of it. So do your worst, avenge her death like the good vengeance demon you are. Don’t expect me to beg though. Because if dying to avenge Anya and save Angel, Spike, and Oz is what I have to do, sign me up.”
Halfrek’s hand squeezed against his throat and Xander felt himself losing consciousness. He tried gasping for breath but none was coming in. Then his eyes fluttered shut and Xander collapsed.
Spike tensed in the van. Drusilla’s words always had double, sometimes triple, meaning. This time would be no different. He focused on the words she’d spoken back at Lucian’s.
“Daddy? Where’s my kitty? He’s going to be in such trouble and Miss Edith is so unhappy. She cries all night that the stars are working against Daddy’s little boy. They dance and spin and turn everything around in a pretty sparkly dance and poor kitty is so dizzy.”
They’d been wrong all along. It wasn’t about Angel at all. It was about Xander. Xander was the kitty. Drusilla had always called Xander her kitten. Xander was in trouble and unhappy. And the thought that made shivers run down his spine was that the stars were working against him. When Drusilla’s stars were working against someone, it meant one thing. Death.
Spike replayed the words of the last few moments. There was something there. Something teasing at the back of his mind.
“She’s come for him Daddy. The kitty is screaming and the stars are dying. The little dolly has curly hair and bloody eyes; she can't save the children now. They are beneath her.”
Spike didn’t realize he’d spoken aloud until Angel turned to him. “Shit! Shit! Buggering, fucking, bloody hell!”
Angel shifted Dru in his arms and grabbed Spike’s arm. “What?”
“Cecily?” The name was familiar to Angel but he couldn’t remember why. “Wasn’t that the girl you wrote the poetry for?”
“One and the same. But she wasn’t some girl. Ran into her a few years ago when Xander was going to marry the demon bint.”
Angel was stunned. “What the hell?”
“Cecily wasn’t Cecily at all. She was a vengeance demon. Goes by the name Halfrek. Was real good friends with Anyanka. Want to take a guess as to why she’s here?” Spike couldn’t help the sarcasm and Angel wasn’t impressed with his tone.
Oz spoke up from the back. “Someone want to clue me in here? I have a feeling I’m missing a few important pieces to the puzzle.”
Spike straightened his spine and turned to Oz. “Back when I was human, I had a bit of a crush on this girl named Cecily. Pretty little thing with curly brown hair and the most beautiful skin.” Angel snorted and Spike got back to the subject at hand. “Anyway, I used to write poetry for her and she laughed in my face and told me I was beneath her. Had a bit of a complex about that for a lot of years.”
He took a moment to calm the feelings of worthlessness that always welled up when he remembered that time. “Well, turns out Cecily was really a vengeance demon.” He turned to Angel. “Remember how we thought Drusilla had somehow managed to kill everyone at that party? It wasn’t her. It was Cecily - well, Halfrek is her demon name. Don’t know what she was revenging but everyone there that night died. Even me.”
“Anyway, I about lost it when she comes strolling in when Xander was getting ready to marry Anya. She called me William. Not many people called me that anymore, well, unless they were adding “the Bloody” after it.” Oz chuckled and Angel scowled at him. Right, not the time for jokes.
Oz leaned forward and propped his chin on Spike’s shoulder. “So why do we think its Cecily/Halfrek who’s causing all this?”
Angel thought back to Drusilla’s words. “It’s what Drusilla said, isn’t it. Curly hair, the children are beneath her. She was trying to tell us who it was.”
Oz thought it over. Made sense to him. “So you think she’s after Xander because of Anya?”
Spike nodded. “Why else? Anya wouldn’t let her do anything to Xander after the whole wedding fiasco. Now Anya’s gone and Xan’s still here. Perfect time for a little vengeance. And what better way than to give him love and take it away, just like what Xander did to Anya.”
Angel leaned closer. “Spike, how exactly did Anya die? Do we know?”
The blond shook his head. “Never got the story. Not a day any of us likes going back over, ya know?”
“I doubt it really matters.” Both vampires turned to Oz at his words. “Whatever she’s got planned it’ll be ten times worse than what happened to Anya that day.”
Spike hated to admit it, but Oz was right. “So how do we stop a vengeance demon?”
Angel sighed. “You don’t.”
Spike turned to Angel, snarling. “What do you mean, ‘you don’t’? Don’t even think about it. I’m going with you, you son of a bitch. You aren’t cutting me out of this. Sire or not, Master of the City shit be damned. He’s my claimed one too, dammit, and I’m not letting you…”
Angel grabbed Spike by the throat. “Calm the fuck down. None of us can stop her. We have to find out who her master is and how to summon it to us. Once a vengeance demon has started their spell, the only way to stop them is through their master.”
Spike realized that he’d jumped the gun again. He knew Angel understood that he was freaking out but still, he shouldn’t have done it. Spike dropped his head to the side and bared his neck to Angel.
Angel leaned forward and sunk his fangs into Spike’s neck. He barely drank, pulling out quickly, but he knew he had to acknowledge Spike’s gesture of submission. It was a delicate balancing act they were all trying to keep up. Angel was very aware that there were minions in the van, listening to every word.
When Angel backed away, Spike straightened up again. “D’Hoffryn.”
“What?” Angel wasn’t familiar with the name.
“D’Hoffryn. That’s her master’s name. Well, that was Anya’s master’s name and I’m guessing they have the same one.”
Oz leaned forward again. “Do you know how to summon him?”
Spike shook his head. “Nope. But…”
Angel and Oz spoke as one. “But what?”
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